03/27/2013 9:45 PM ET
Sveum better prepared for Year 2 with Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Last year, Dale Sveum was featured in an ad campaign titled "Baseball is Better," which was a phrase Theo Epstein used at his introductory news conference as president of baseball operations for the Cubs.
It was a little more publicity than Sveum was accustomed to.
"My face was on a fricking billboard," the Cubs manager said Wednesday, laughing. "I haven't even won a game yet in Chicago, and I'm on a billboard."
Now, he heads into Year No. 2 at the helm much better prepared.
"For myself, I know what to expect when I get to Chicago," Sveum said. "I know the living [setup], I know the fans, the clubhouse, and all the clubhouse people, and everybody in the organization. Everything gets a lot easier your second time around.
"It even gets easier for the players -- we talk all the time about the day games," he said. "They've got another year under their belt with that many day games and [know how to handle] three in a row, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. There's a comfort level that comes into play that makes things easier."
Hopefully, the same can be said for the crew loading his motorcycle onto the moving truck headed to Chicago. Sveum recalled how one year, when he was on the Brewers' coaching staff, he got a somewhat panicked phone call while on the road.
There was a problem when the guys were loading the bike onto the truck. Two were pushing on each side, using the handlebars, and for some reason, someone decided to sit on the bike as it was being loaded. Well, the ramp was narrow and one of the crew on the side lost his footing, grabbed the handlebars for support, but the foot peg punctured his groin. He ended up in the emergency room.
There's still a scratch on the front rim of Sveum's bike from the incident.
The Cubs crew had a wider ramp -- and knew the story about the mishap, too.
Sveum said he was treated well in his first year in Chicago, despite the team's struggles. The Cubs lost 101 games last season.
"It was all good," he said. "Everybody was actually really positive all the time, even though things weren't going well. I didn't have any bad incidents or anything."
One of the writers said he didn't recall Sveum being booed.
"I wouldn't say 'never,'" Sveum said. "There were a few times when [the game] was out of my hands."
Sveum praises Marmol as spring winds down
MESA, Ariz. -- In 2004, Keith Foulke gave up 15 earned runs in nine Spring Training innings for a 15.00 ERA with the Red Sox. Cubs manager Dale Sveum, then on Boston's coaching staff, called it "the worst Spring Training in the history of the game."
That year, Foulke saved 32 games for the Red Sox and helped them win a World Series.
"That's why you don't put too much emphasis on Spring Training," Sveum said Wednesday.
Which is why Sveum wasn't too upset after Carlos Marmol's rough outing Tuesday night against the Reds. Marmol had not given up an earned run in his seven outings before Tuesday when he failed to retire any of the six batters he faced. The right-hander was charged with three earned runs on six hits and one walk.
In his seven previous outings, he had given up four hits. Marmol's spring ERA went from 1.86 to 4.66 after the outing, which isn't close to being Foulke-like.
"He's been throwing strikes with his fastball," Sveum said of Marmol. "[Tuesday], he got hit a little bit, but it's still strikes and he's doing a pretty good job. He had four outings in a row where I think the most pitches he threw were 12.
"There's no worries there. It's Spring Training, just like you don't worry about one of your core hitters struggling in Spring Training because Opening Day is a different animal with adrenaline and focus and everything gets better."
In 2011, Marmol compiled a 2.00 ERA in nine spring games, giving up two earned runs on five hits over nine innings. Last spring, he served up seven runs on eight hits over 8 1/3 innings. This spring, he's been charged with five earned runs on nine hits over 9 2/3 innings.
The Cubs do have Kyuji Fujikawa in camp. The Japanese right-hander was a closer for 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers and will be used to close if Marmol needs a breather. But Fujikawa isn't taking Marmol's job.
"Anybody can lose their job at any time during the season, but there's one thing you don't get caught up in -- you don't get caught up in guys' track records in Spring Training or what's going on in Spring Training," Sveum said. "The adrenaline factor and all that -- you don't ever forget what [Marmol] did the last three months of the season last year."
After the All-Star break, Marmol posted a 1.52 ERA in 30 games and saved 12 of 13 opportunities.
Cubs add Moscoso to mix for final bullpen opening
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Blue Jays in their continued search for bullpen help.
Moscoso is not guaranteed a spot on the Cubs' Opening Day roster, but is an option for the 'pen. The team did tell right-hander Cory Wade, one of the in-house candidates, that he will not make the 25-man roster. That leaves lefty Hisanori Takahashi in camp, but the Cubs are still monitoring the waiver wire.
To make room for Moscoso on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino was placed on the 60-day disabled list. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Takahashi is a non-roster invitee, and the Cubs would need to open a spot on the 40-man for him as well. The lefty has given up six earned runs on 16 hits and four walks over 15 1/3 innings this spring.
The Cubs also have yet to finalize the position players on the Opening Day roster. Steve Clevenger is in the same situation as Takahashi. He's the last in-house candidate.
"It's a little weird not knowing what your fate is," said Clevenger, who made the Opening Day roster last year as a backup catcher. "I put stuff on the truck [going to Chicago]. I'm getting ready to head north, and if they tell me different, they'll have to send it to me.
"It's a little weird," he said. "It's a little nerve-racking, too. At least I'm making them make a decision rather than be already down in the Minor League camp."
Moscoso, 29, is 11-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 57 Major League appearances, including 24 starts, over four seasons with the Rangers (2009-10), Athletics (2011) and Rockies (2012). In each of the past two seasons, he made 23 big league appearances, with 21 of his 23 outings as a starter in 2011, and 20 of his 23 appearances as a reliever last year.
In his three starts last year, the right-hander was 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA, and he compiled a 4.42 ERA in 20 relief appearances. He will not pitch in Arizona -- the Cubs have one game remaining on Thursday -- and will not make the trip to Houston for two exhibition games.
• Starlin Castro was headed to New York to be with his girlfriend, who is expecting their first child. Castro was expected to rejoin the team Friday or Saturday in Houston.
The shortstop, who turned 23 on Sunday, was batting .378 this spring, and played nine innings on Tuesday night.
• The Cubs will say goodbye to HoHoKam Park after Thursday's game. The team has called the ballpark its Spring Training home since its first game there, Feb. 28, 1997, against the Mariners. Fittingly, the Cubs will wrap up the 2013 Cactus League season against the Mariners. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT.
The Cubs are 132-118-13 all-time in Cactus League play at HoHoKam Park over 17 seasons.
Just because the big league team is leaving after Thursday's game, it doesn't mean HoHoKam will be dormant. The Cubs' Minor Leaguers will play there this spring before breaking camp for their respective sites, plus the stadium will host the team's Arizona Rookie League squad this summer.
The Mesa Solar Sox also will play Arizona Fall League games at HoHoKam, starting in October.
The Athletics have signed a 20-year lease to play at HoHoKam, starting in 2015. Among the changes they will make is a new video scoreboard, wider seats and a bigger clubhouse.
The Cubs are moving to a new facility, currently being built in west Mesa at the intersection of highways 101 and 202, and scheduled to be ready for 2014 Spring Training.
• Outfielder Brett Jackson played in a Minor League game Wednesday and got some at-bats. Jackson, sidelined with a strained right shoulder, was expected to play four or five innings on Thursday. He will open the season at Triple-A Iowa.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.